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Reducing Loneliness

18th March 2019


A new music project to reduce loneliness and isolation in Gateshead is set to start this Spring.

Sage Gateshead, together with Age UK (Gateshead) and Gateshead Older People’s Assembly, is launching Well Tuned Gateshead - six community music groups for older people over the age of 50.

Funded by a grant of £96,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund (the largest funder of community activity in the UK), Well Tuned Gateshead is a two-year programme which aims to work with around 90 people who want to find a way of keeping socially active and enjoy music. 

The programme will focus on group music-making. There will be taster sessions at the start, followed by regular music sessions and celebration events. It aims to encourage people to learn an instrument or sing in a choir as well as offer opportunities to meet new people with similar interests; rekindle, develop or learn new skills; and try something fun and different. 

Well Tuned Gateshead will be delivered in Deckham, Chopwell and Felling; three wards which have been identified as in the top seven per cent ‘at risk of loneliness’ wards in England.

Each community group will receive musical instruments as well as training, mentoring and resources to give older people the skills and confidence to continue to run the music groups themselves once the project has ended. 

The first year of the project is free to participants. The second year, participants will be asked to make a small donation to help to continue the project beyond its initial time. 

Phil Davids, Programme Leader at Sage Gateshead, said: “We’ve already seen the positivity that can come from programmes like this, such as our existing Silver Programme, and so we’re delighted to have received funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which will hopefully help to make a positive change to the lives of those in our community.”  

Julie Latimer, Head of Income Generation and Business Development, Age UK: “We are delighted to be able to work with our partners to bring this project right into our communities, which we hope will encourage people to come and try the sessions. You don’t have to have any skills – just bring your enthusiasm and we’ll do the rest.”

Craig Bankhead, Chief Executive, Gateshead Older People's Assembly: “At Gateshead Older People’s Assembly we offer a range of activities to help improve the health and wellbeing of older people in Gateshead and working with two great partner organisations allows us to reach out further. 

“This project adds to an ever-increasing number of opportunities for people aged over 50 across the borough and is a fantastic way of bringing people together so they can have fun, learn something new and make lasting friendships.” 

Well Tuned Gateshead is one of more than 2,250 community-led projects in England to benefit from a slice of over £65 million of National Lottery Funding awarded across England this quarter. Announced this week, the funding will support activities ranging from storytelling groups for those with learning difficulties to a holiday beach hut for injured soldiers and families. 

Details of music sessions and events will be posted on www.sagegateshead.com soon.


For further information, interviews or images please contact:

Emily Taylor, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

E. emily.taylor@sagegateshead.com T. 0191 443 4617 M. 07793 762 879

Gaynor Ellis, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

E. gaynor.ellis@sagegateshead.com T. 0191 443 4690 

Notes to editors:

Research highlights a rapidly ageing population in Gateshead as well as significantly higher than average numbers of people suffering from conditions associated with poor health in old age, including obesity, hip fractures and alcohol related hospital stays. 

22% of people in Gateshead say their health limits day to day activities compared to around 18% nationally (Gateshead Borough Council 2016/17 & 2011 Census) 

Sage Gateshead, Age UK (Gateshead) and Gateshead Older People’s Assembly have identified three geographical areas to target using the Age UK Loneliness Heat Map, 2018:

• The ward of Felling is within the top 2% at risk of loneliness wards in England;

• The ward of Deckham is within the top 3% at risk of loneliness wards in England;

• The ward of Chopwell is within the top 7% at risk of loneliness wards in England.

Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.

Every year it welcomes more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops. 

The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals. 

As a charity, the support it receives helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.  


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